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Week 3 schedule analysis

by | Rotowire.com
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It's the second week of the season and you're likely recognizing the identity of your team. Are you destined to make a season-long comeback because you went heavy on Rangers players like yours truly? Or are you riding high because you loaded up on the right mix of sleepers and prospects like Lars Eller, Tomas Hertl and Sean Monahan? Regardless of your place in the standings right now, it's the newly aligned NHL and the most subtle of schedule trends can send you spiraling or soaring in one night.

NHL schedule

Three of a Kind

High Percentage Teams (weaker schedules)

The Isles (BUF, EDM, CAR) are as solid as anyone heading into this week's schedule when they play three opponents sporting a combined record of 3-8-3 headed into Saturday's (10/12/13) action. In addition to John Tavares (DDS), Michael Grabner, Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey look to keep the party moving all the way to Brooklyn.

Colorado (DAL, DET, @BUF) faces a schedule of teams (4-7-1) that are getting outscored 31 to 21 so far. Adding to that contrast, Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere have given up a total of three goals in four games this season.

Washington (EDM, NYR, CLS) and Montreal (at WPG, CLS, NAS) play a combined five of six from home against extremely under-performing teams as well.

In the meantime, you may want to avoid ...

Low Percentage Teams (tougher schedules)

Considering Jacob Markstrom's inability to put it altogether, that fuzzy feeling you had about Florida (at NAS, BOS, MIN) has likely died down with the news about Tim Thomas. No surprise they're getting outscored 21-13 in the early going.

At first glance, San Jose (at STL, at DAL, CAL) looks to be a good bet to stay hot this week. Look again and you'll see they travel for two of three, one of which will be the almost as hot Blues. Dallas' play has been unstable and Calgary's bottom could fall out, but something tells us Hertl and the Sharks will come back down to earth this week.

Don't misinterpret Carolina's (CHI, at TOR, at NYI) 2-1-2 record as well. Although Anton Khudobin (2-0, 1.50 GAA) has been quite stellar in his limited logged time, number one Cam Ward (0-1-2, 2.87 GAA) has been pedestrian at best. If Ward gets the nod for at least two of these starts, look out, Carolina could go from second in the Metropolitan to keeping the Flyers and Rangers company at the bottom.

Speaking of which ...

One Pair

Not only is their schedule almost exclusive to teams playing solid hockey, but players from New Jersey (at OTT, NYR), the Rangers (at WAS, at NJ), Philadelphia (VAN, PIT) and Calgary (at ANH, at SJ) will play just two games this week. Could this be the Sean Monahan train back to juniors? As old fashioned as we can be, we just can't seem them doing so, regardless of how the Flames play this week. Four games left and the clock is ticking.

Other pairs to consider:

Back-to-Back Jacks

In addition to all of the Four Aces (see below) playing on back-to-back nights once this week, these two teams are playing two of their three games on consecutive nights.

Thomas Greiss, G, Phoenix (OTT, at ANH, DET): For those (owned by 8% of CBS) considering picking up Greiss, you may hesitate when you see his opponent will either be the Ducks or Red Wings. As for Mike Smith's career numbers, in 13 games played against Anaheim, Smith is 8-3-1 (2.74 GAA), while in nine games played against Detroit Smith is 2-5-2 with 2.60 GAA.

Brian Elliott, G, St. Louis (SJ, at CHI, at WPG): Elliott had yet to appear in a game heading into Saturday's match-up with the Rangers. Head coach Ken Hitchcock is likely to give Elliott the nod against the weaker Jets and the white hot Jaroslav Halak against the cup champs, Chicago.

Four Aces

Raise (weaker schedules)

Detroit (at BOS, CLS, at COL, at PHX), Nashville (FLA, LA, at MON, WPG) and Vancouver (at PHI, at BUF, at PIT, at CLS) all play favorable four game schedules.

Daniel Alfredsson has 26 goals, 43 assists in 87 career games versus the B's. Alfredsson was kept quiet in last week's 4-1 loss in Boston, perhaps the second time in a week is the charm for the veteran Northeast rival.

Stephen Weiss has seven goals and five assists in 10 career games against the Avs.

There's always good old Pavel Datsyuk (goal, assist in four games), who has 173 points in 149 career games against this week's opponents.

One thing we love about Detroit's week is Jimmy Howard's career record (28-8-5, 2.23 GAA, 2 SO) against this week's opponents. How about even better news for Howard owners? He'll likely get three starts this week. Despite Jonas Gustavsson's fairly impressive career GAA (2.48) versus Boston, he's likely to draw the weaker Columbus team on Tuesday.

Fold (tougher schedules)

Minnesota (at BUF, at TOR, at TB, at FLA), Buffalo (MIN, at NYI, VAN, COL), Edmonton (at WAS, at PIT, at NYI, at OTT), Columbus (at DET, at MON, at WAS, VAN) and Dallas (at COL, SJ, at LA, at ANH) have busy but sketchy games likely to leave a negative impact on your week.

It's the regular season, so of course Niklas Backstrom (lower-body) is fighting a day-to-day injury. While Josh Harding has been solid in his two games since the Backstrom injury, his career record (19-42-6, 2.97 GAA) on the road is ugly, regardless of what team's he'll be facing this week. We'll leave this one up to you.

Offensively (9/11 GF/GA), things just are not panning out for the Wild, who have a four man log jam for scoring leader with three points, including Matt Cooke and Mikael Granlund. Perhaps Zach Parise's (three goals) Eastern Conference cred is still good, but we somehow doubt it.

It should be a telling week for Jonas Brodin (two goals, one assist), who will play in four arenas that he's stepped foot in.

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Player News
Charlie Coyle
Wild's Coyle To Open Training Camp At Center
Charlie Coyle, C, MIN
3:39 PM
News: Wild coach Mike Yeo said Charlie Coyle would open training camp as a center, Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.
Analysis: Charlie Coyle is the leading candidate to pivot Minnesota's third line, with Nino Niederreiter and Justin Fontaine expected to join him at either wing. The 23-year-old has tallied 30 and 35 points in each of his full two seasons in Minnesota, but he'll likely need to find himself in a top-six role before a more notable breakout comes to fruition.

Ryan McDonagh
Rangers' McDonagh Back To Full Health
Ryan McDonagh, D, NYR
3:25 PM
News: Ryan McDonagh (foot) has resumed skating at 100 percent and began his normal training regimen in August for the upcoming season, NHL.com reports.
Analysis: After spending six weeks in a walking boot upon breaking his foot in the Eastern Conference Finals, Ryan McDonagh rested up for another month before taking the ice again. Since he's only been healthy for a few weeks, it could take McDonagh until the middle or latter portion of training camp before he gets back to full speed. In addition to the broken foot, McDonagh dealt with a separated shoulder for much of last November, which may have explained his 10-point drop in scoring from the season prior. McDonagh has historically done well to avoid the injury bug, so it wouldn't be a surprise if he returns a 40-point scorer with a better run of health likely on the horizon.

Scottie Upshall
Upshall Agrees To PTO With Blues
Scottie Upshall, LW, FLA
2:56 PM
News: Scottie Upshall signed a professional tryout offer with the Blues on Tuesday, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Analysis: After totaling 37 points in 76 games for the Panthers in 2013-14, Scottie Upshall saw both his minutes and scoring tail off considerably last season, finishing the season with just 15 points while averaging 12:41 of ice time. Upshall's decline was accelerated by a number of younger forwards claiming bigger roles, and aside from a bump up in plus/minus rating, the 32-year-old's situation isn't likely to change for the better if he's able to claim a spot on the Blues' roster. The Blues iced one of the league's most productive attacks last season, and probably wouldn't have room for Upshall in anything more than a fourth-line role, where he'd receive few opportunities to generate points.

Nikolaj Ehlers
Jets' Ehlers Expected To Contend For NHL Gig
Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, WPG
2:40 PM
News: Nikolaj Ehlers is expected to contend for a 23-man roster spot with the Jets during training camp, the Winnipeg Sun reports.
Analysis: Nikolaj Ehlers, the No. 3 overall pick by Winnipeg in 2014, cemented himself as the team's top prospect -- and one of the best under-20 players in any organization -- after turning in a scintillating 2014-15 campaign for QMJHL Halifax. For the second straight season, he tallied over 100 points, showcasing the necessary tools to become one of the NHL's top scorers in due time. The Jets don't appear to have any immediate openings in their top-six ranks, so Ehlers would likely have to fight for a third-line role out of training camp, while potentially seeing time on the team's second power-play unit. Those types of duties won't lend themselves to premium offense, but if Ehlers can score at a high clip in limited minutes, it might not be long before the Jets carve out an even larger role for him.

Joshua Morrissey
Jets' Morrissey Expected To Open Year In AHL
Joshua Morrissey, D, WPG
2:31 PM
News: Joshua Morrissey is expected to open the upcoming season with AHL Manitoba, the Winnipeg Sun reports.
Analysis: Joshua Morrissey, the Jets' top defenseman prospect who oozes offensive upside, is coming off a stellar junior-league campaign in which he produced 13 goals and 25 assists over 47 WHL games. The 20-year-old isn't far away from being NHL ready, but with nine defensemen on one-way contracts entering training camp, the Jets already have a wealth of options at the position to depend on. Though injuries could pave the way for Morrissey to see time with the big club this season, he'll be better served developing his skills further at the AHL level.

Ondrej Pavelec
Jets' Pavelec Likely To Open Season As Starter
Ondrej Pavelec, G, WPG
2:26 PM
News: Ondrej Pavelec is expected to open the season as the Jets' starting goaltender, the Winnipeg Sun reports.
Analysis: The starting gig was frequently passed between Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson in 2014-15, but Pavelec ultimately prevailed in the job battle down the stretch, capping the regular season with three consecutive shutouts and earning every start during the Jets' first-round playoff series loss to the Ducks. The 27-year-old's mediocre track record prior to last season's career-best 2.28 GAA and .920 save percentage make him a difficult fantasy option to trust, and it's fair to wonder if he'll be pushed out of a full-time role if his historic struggles return. If Hutchinson isn't able to state a case to unseat Pavelec, top goalie prospect Connor Hellebuyck may be able to apply some pressure.

Chris Phillips
Sens' Phillips Doesn't Have Timeline For Return
Chris Phillips, D, OTT
2:13 PM
News: Chris Phillips (back), who underwent surgery in the spring to address a bulging disc, is uncertain when he'll be cleared to resume hockey activities, Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun reports.
Analysis: Chris Phillips was able to start skating again in mid-August, the first time he'd been on the ice since April. It appears the time off this summer has helped his ailing back, but with training camp just around the corner, it's not clear if he'll be ready to take contact by that time. Even if he's healthy for the start of the regular season, the 37-year-old isn't expected to enjoy a significant role on the Sens' blue line.

Stephane Robidas
Leafs' Robidas Cleared For Contact
Stephane Robidas, D, TOR
9:07 AM
News: Stephane Robidas (upper body) was cleared for contact in August and is expected to be a full participant when the Maple Leafs open training camp, Lance Hornsby of the Toronto Sun reports.
Analysis: Stephane Robidas' first season in Toronto was an injury-riddled mess, as he was limited to just 52 games before being shut down in mid-March with a sore shoulder and nagging pain in his ankle. It was later determined that Robidas was also dealing with a torn bicep, but the 38-year-old defenseman now seems to be fully recovered from the myriad ailments that plagued him in 2014-15. As the elder statesman on the Toronto roster, Robidas will be counted on to provide leadership along the blue line, though his actual fantasy contributions figure to be minimal. He scored just seven points while averaging only 17:04 of ice time last season, a number that could plunge further if the rebuilding Leafs decide to make room for more of their younger options on defense.

Zdeno Chara
Bruins' Chara Back In Form
Zdeno Chara, D, BOS
9:00 AM
News: Zdeno Chara, who is bouncing back from the displaced fracture of his left fibula that he dealt with late last season, pronounced himself healthy in advance of the coming season, csnne.com reports.
Analysis: Zdeno Chara finished the 2014-15 campaign with a modest total of 20 points in 63 games, to go along with 42 PIM, while averaging a career-low 23:21 of ice time. Injuries, including a torn PCL in his left knee that forced him out of action for more than a month, contributed to his dip in production, but a bounce-back could be in order now that he is healthy again. While hardly an up-and-comer at the age of 38, Chara is nonetheless being counted on heavily by the Bruins, especially with fellow blueliner Dougie Hamilton having been traded to the Flames. Ample ice time and a key role on the team's power play should thus provide Chara with an opportunity to re-establish his fantasy utility in 2015-16, in the absence of further injury setbacks.

Jay Rosehill
Rosehill Stays With Flyers On AHL Contract
Jay Rosehill, LW, PHI
8/31/2015
News: Jay Rosehill signed a one-year, AHL-only contract with the Flyers' affiliate in Lehigh Valley, Dave Isaac of the South Jersey Courier-Post reports.
Analysis: Jay Rosehill will stick around in the Flyers organization for a fourth straight season, but expect him to skate exclusively with Lehigh Valley, as was the case for all of 2013-14. As an enforcer with limited offensive ability, Rosehill is becoming an increasingly poor fit in the modern NHL, and could very well have played his last minute in the league.

 
 
 
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